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silhouettes-141366_1920Managers and supervisors spend approximately 25% of their time resolving some type of conflict. The time spent managing conflict has increased because of the growing complexity of business and organizations. Therefore, how we manage conflict can significantly affect employee morale, employee turnover, business productivity, and the possibility of litigation. These types of conflict can be very disruptive and costly. As you are growing your small business, it helps to gain knowledge of the various sources of conflict because you can be proactive and prevent some of the disruption and cost.
There are at least 10 sources of conflict that have been identified in the literature.

Responsibility – There is often a conflict when workers are confused about their duties and the expected outcomes. Good plans, goal setting and adequate communications are required to eliminate this situation.

Leadership – The leadership style of the manager or supervisor will influence understanding and commitment An autocratic style tends to close down the thinking process of the workers and they are not fully engaged so that they will make adjustments if needed. They do what they are told, not what they really understand and are fully involved in. A collaborative management style values the employee’s view and uses it to help set goals. Performance related conflict is less likely with collaborative styles of management.

Personality – This is probably one of the most frequent causes of conflict in the workplace. Different moods may be in conflict or simply different ways of behaving may be in conflict. For example, the differences between introverts and extroverts. This can be the cause of difficulty when working with others.
Conflicting Needs – Here you will see conflict of interests due to differing needs. Such as the need to be a perfect parent as well as the perfect worker.

Poor Communications – This can lead to uncertainty, rumors and gossip. All of these can help to tear down an organization. Prevent this.

Scarce Resources – In this situation, there may be limited resources but each of the parties involved have critical responsibilities that need the resources. Priorities must be set.

Poor Performance – Low quality of work, customer complaints, waste of materials etc. can result in varying levels of conflict between coworkers. An in-depth analysis of the situation is needed to determine the factors involved.
Environment – This involves situations outside of the organization such as recession, high unemployment rate and others.
Organization – This occurs when a vague, illogical, or unfair hierarchy of authority is in place. Therefore, the way workers report to each other creates conflict.
Power – The people involved in this conflict all want to have the most influence in an area when only one can be in charge.


There is usually a complex system of dynamics occurring when conflict arises. So it helps if the manager can understand some of the potential sources and can begin to design a plan for the resolution. Keep in mind the importance of dealing with conflict as early in the process as possible to eliminate the degree of damage to your organization.